hella folks been askin’ me about lyrics and liner notes for the EP. my plan, initially, was to incorporate them into the newly redesigned website; a plan that was first drawn up for tobacco road, and somewhat kinda sorta put on hold when the idea of an interim project started gaining momentum.
Now that black patch war is here, i figure i have an obligation to provide listeners with the tools necessary to dissect and digest the verbal content. this post will serve as the first in a consecutive series, where i’ll mix lyrics and liner notes together with hyperlinked nuggets of trivial information for the truest of Common Market Fanboy Stanley Cup Champions.
First up is “his eminence,” chosen due to much of the confusion i’ve overheard and read regarding the subject matter. granted, it IS on some proof-level insidery shit, so i aint even mad at ya, grynch. maybe this will help.
foreword: i lost my pops to suicide when i was six. his name was jimmy.
“…politickin’ with the big boys… prince of eminence
small town royalty… salute the procession.
jimmy had a six-string, jimmy had a drum (1)
jimmy had a six-pack, jimmy had a gun (2)
jimmy had a problem and jimmy had to run
and since, i’ve resented that jimmy ever had a son
where you been, jimmy? you know alotta things changed after you left (3)
on who rests blame? we’re all clueless (4)
effects of undue stress caused a few to lose breath
and question, ‘after you, who’s next?’
the true test of how strong the bond’s tied
comes right around the time the patriarch dies (5)
how many McKinney’s left? you can count ‘em on one hand
your legacy’s as petty as you – understand? (6)
it’s a cold world & i’ve seen a grip of cats freeze
at times you had me thinkin’ i’m sick with that disease (7)
contemplatin’ my fate, .38 ways to face it
put the metal in my mouth at nineteen, just to taste it ( 8 )
the flavor of black powder requires an acquired palette
look at me preachin’ to the choir about it, i doubt it
ever even crossed your mind, tryin’ to shoulder
the weight of raisin’ a daughter demands a harder spine (9)
stunned, shocked, what one shot could do to the fam
the bough breaks, nowadays i call your mother ‘ruthann’ (10)
she hardly know me, slowly we drifted through the breeze
recently i visited to introduce my seed (11)
trouble breathin’, oxygen helps mask the wheezin’
ashtray in the kitchen overflowin’ with the reason (12)
‘them’s johnny’s.’ he passed through when we was leavin’
lookin’ like he seen a ghost in my frame – he started weepin’(13)
we talked for hours; told him ‘you gotta let go.’
imagine in twenty years how many others said so
i can’t connect with him, so i stop – he’s not ready
lost touch with reality + josh and debbie (14)
it’s a heavy burden [he] struggles to find steady work
and he hasn’t played the drums since y’all was last rehearsin’ (15)
i heard your moms gave him the house, it caused conflict
with cheryl and becky especially when he lost it (16)
it’s pitiful, your little brother is literally
trapped in a void and that bad choice was pivotal
damn, you got him stuck in a rut, i’m singin’
‘johnny was a good man…’ but you fucked that up (17)
aiyo it’s complicated commiseratin’ with the complacent
the blank stare on his face remains vacant
what a disgrace, he wastes every day he lives
and i still can’t decide if that’s your fault or his…” ( 18 )
(1) – pa dukes was an accomplished musician. well, accomplished may be overstating it a bit; his band whitehorse never really played outside of the tri-county area, but dude could certainly manhandle a host of instruments, including the guitar, drums and piano. i have a couple of old reel-to-reel tapes of him messin’ around with original compositions (though they sound an awful lot like some classic jackson browne). my favorite of them all showcases his vocal percussion skills – yeah, pops was beatboxin’ in ’72.
(2) – no doubt about it, my father was an alcoholic. of the handful of possessions he inadvertently left me, i distinctly remember a PBR trucker’s cap; i wore it for years entirely oblivious to the irony. he was also a gun owner, and that was his weapon of choice when he entered into his final battle.
(3) – perhaps the most significant change, for me as a kindergarten-aged boy, was instantly becoming the “man of the house.” the shift in perspective, if not in real responsibility, would have a profound effect on my attitude toward women for years and years to come.
(4) – the fucked up thing about suicide survivors (friends & family of the victim) is that they tend to hold everyone, to varying degrees, accountable for the death of their loved one; everyone, that is, except for the deceased.
(5) – this statement is in no way intended to discredit the ability of a mother to hold the family together. on the contrary, my mother did an extraordinary job of keeping us rock-solid through a couple of very turbulent years. my point is that after my father’s death, i fell completely out of communication with his side of the family (reason: see #4), and as a result…
(6) – … i changed my last name. not a whole hell of a lot of folks know this about me, but i was born Ryan James McKinney. when my daughter was born, i made a promise to myself to do better as a father, so i left “his” name in the past, where it belonged. incidentally, abeo means “her birth brings happiness.”
(7) – depression. i don’t know that my father was ever clinically diagnosed, but i’ve heard it from those who know better than any doctor; jimmy had them demons. note: the painting at the header is by van gogh, himself a victim of suicide.
( 8 ) – as a teenager, i was absolutely fascinated with the idea of suicide, particularly by gun-to-the-head. primarily driven by mindless chatter from know-it-all fucktards who said things like “suicide is the EASY way out,” i put a loaded revolver in my mouth and just tried to imagine what sort of balls it must take to pull the trigger. fuck all your “real talk.”
(9) – a reference to my sister and my daughter at once. jamie’s more than six years older than me, which means she was almost exactly madison’s age when my pops dies. i honestly cannot fathom how difficult my father’s death must have been for her.
(10) – you gotta know things are fallin’ apart when you start callin’ your grandma by her first name.
(11) – december 23, 2005. i stopped by my grandmother’s house (same house my dad grew up in) for the first time in more than 15 years for the purpose of introducing my wife and daughter. it was an ugly, saddening sight, as described in the lines that follow.
(12) – the house was dilapidated. when we first arrived, i made my way through the waist-high weeds to the door we used as kids to get straight to the kool-aid in the kitchen after playing tag on a hot summer day, only to find it boarded up from the inside. once we gained access through the half-rotted front door, the scene on the interior was worse. my grandmother was frail and feeble, requiring oxygen to carry on any semblance of a conversation. evidently the strict admonition against smoking was no deterrent for my uncle johnny, who, at 50+ was still living at home rent-free.
(13) – long-winded as these blogs seem, i couldn’t possibly muster the words or the energy to break down my uncle johnny for you. johnny was my dad’s little brother, and like any good sibling, positively adored his mentor. he went certifiably batshit-loony when daddy died; i’ll sum him up in a single anecdote: one cold christmas eve, the bulk of my extended family was enjoying a holiday dinner at my maternal grandmother’s house when a rather unexpected and furious knock at the back door disrupted the festivities. my uncle johnny had gotten himself a little liquored up and turned hyper-brolic; wielding a fully-loaded .357, he threatened to avenge his brother’s death by taking out my mother (who has 2 very capable brothers of her own – in short, johnny got checked on that shit). anyway, back to my paternal grandmother’s house – soon as she saw me, she called johnny (on the rotary phone, i swear to god). he was there within minutes, slightly intoxicated, and terribly overwhelmed. i am my father’s son, after all.
(14) – as you may have guessed, johnny couldn’t manage to maintain his marriage; she got custody.
(15) – if there was one thing in the world my uncle could do better than my father it was play them drums.
(16) – sure, real estate is dirt cheap in eminence, KY, but a house is a house, goddammit. and when you’re talkin’ about the family estate, albeit decrepit and worthless, it causes some sibling rivalry when it’s gifted to the youngest son – especially when he’s jobless and nutty in the noggin.
(17) – marley reference, for you thicker ones.
( 18 ) – basically.
several months after that visit, my grandmother passed away from severe complications with her health, largely due, i’m sure, to prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke. about a year later, johnny was found dead in an apartment rented by a former girlfriend; a bottle of pills was found near the bed.
for jimmy, johnny and many others: